On 7 March, the UK Parliament published their latest version of the statement of changes to the Immigration Rules for 2019. A number of key changes to the Immigration Rules were announced. Amongst these, two new immigration categories are to be introduced; namely the ‘New Start-Up’ and ‘Innovator’ categories which are to replace the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa and visa (Entrepreneur) categories. In general, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa allowed people who had £200,000 and were willing to invest these funds to come and establish businesses in the UK.
Though the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa category has been open for over 10 years, the visa category has recently faced criticism as some of the businesses set up were considered to have been “low quality which contributed little or nothing to the UK economy”.
The Start-up category is an expanded version of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category. It is aimed at entrepreneurs wishing to starting a new business for the first time in the UK. Applicants will not need to be graduates and they will also not need to have secured any initial funding, however they will require endorsement from an appropriate body. Whilst the precise details of the policy are not yet known, it is believed that people wishing to set up, low quality businesses will not succeed as they are unlikely to secure a suitable endorsement. It will also preclude people from investing in existing UK businesses which the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa permitted.
The new Innovator category has been introduced for more experienced business people. As well as requiring an endorsement from an appropriate body, applicants will need £50,000 to invest in their business from any legitimate source. The funding requirement will be waived for those switching from the Start-up category who have made significant achievements against their business plans. The category may lead to settlement in the UK.
The changes to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category are due to come into effect as of 29 March 2019.
If you are affected by the removal of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) or (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories and/or are interested in learning more about the New Start-Up and Innovator categories, please contact the Head of Immigration, Dhruti Thakrar, or any member of the Immigration team to arrange an initial discussion on what options are available to you.
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